Babu Janardhan's Bombay March 12 is not an easy movie to watch. Victimization at a very blatant level is the core issue that it concerns itself with, and religion often forms a backdrop.
The year is 1993, and the film rekindles memories of March 12, the day when bomb blasts rocked the metropolitan city of Mumbai that left many innocents dead. As the fire flames ravage the city, three individuals in three corners of the country realize that their lives have been changed forever; Abida (Roma) a young girl in Aleppey, her brother Shajahan (Unni Mukundan) who has just landed in Mumbai on a new job and Sadanand Bhatt (Mammootty), a temple pujari in Chennai.
The non-linear narrative takes up a zigzag pattern, moving liberally between timelines. Starting off at 1993, it soon moves into the next century and after a brief while rocks back and forth all over again. It takes a while for the entire plot to unfurl and the missing ends to tie up together.
Terrorism as a theme itself is fast becoming a cliche, but Bombay March 12 cleverly steers clear of the likely potholes on its way. The narration is kept as realistic as possible, and Sameer (Mammootty again) is shorn of any remnants of heroism. He is the victim all right, and as such remains helpless, weak and utterly dejected.
Perhaps what I liked most about the film was the final scene, where Babu doesn't let us walk away at leisure. It would be wrong to divulge any more of what happens at the very last scene, but the suggestion that you are being watched, isn't an easy one to live with, as Sameer realizes with a shudder.
Unfortunately, even as the script writer in Babu Janardhan excels, his directorial skills leave us wanting for more. There is no deliberate effort to minimize the complexity that gradually mounts, and only the very discerning viewer who remains engrossed in the film would find the sailing smooth.
This is probably one of the most delicate performances from Mammootty that we have seen in recent times. Delicate, since the actor is especially careful of stardom not seeping into his portrayal of Sameer and Sadananda Bhatt. Equally impressive is the performance of Unni Mukundan as Shajahan, and its commendable that the young actor stands confidently with Mammootty in many a scene, and delivers the goods with aplomb. And of course, there is Roma as well, who delivers a career best feat.
Vipin Mohan adopts the documentarian feel, and his camera gets busy capturing random spectacles of life. The musical score that has been composed by Afsal Yusuf does make an impression as well, though both the songs in the film could easily have been done away with.
Bombay March 12 is a film that needs to be applauded for taking a definitive stand on what it intends to discuss. There is no ambiguity here; rather a seething and raw bruise is laid bare to be seen, and to be judiciously examined.